When hominids came out of the trees and started eating grasses and grains they started the road to being human. Dogs followed later.
Even the most illustrious canine breeds can probably trace their heritage to junkyard dogs.
That’s the conclusion of a new study aimed at finding the genetic changes that transformed wild wolves into domesticated dogs. Dogs can digest carbohydrates better than wolves can, and gaining that ability may have been an important step in taming the animals, evolutionary geneticist Erik Axelsson of Uppsala University in Sweden and his colleagues report online January 23 in Nature. As humans settled into farming communities, wolves may have given up their meat-only diets to scavenge carbohydrate-rich food from garbage dumps. Animals that could best make use of the starchy food may gradually have morphed over generations into man’s best friend.
No one expected genes relating to digestion to be important for dog domestication, says Elaine Ostrander, chief of the National Human Genome Research Institute’s cancer genetics branch and an authority on dog genetics. Researchers previously thought that when wolves became domestic dogs, genes controlling behavior and the immune system must have changed.
The new study focuses on genetic differences between 60 dogs representing 14 breeds and 12 wolves from around the world. Those changes, the researchers reasoned, could identify genes that were important in separating dogs from wolves.
The researchers determined the genetic makeup of groups of dogs and compared the results to those from wolves, concentrating on parts of the genetic instruction book that differ between the two species. As they had expected, the researchers uncovered differences in many genes relating to the brain. But the search also revealed lots of genes involved in starch digestion and metabolism, and in the use of fats. Dogs, the team found, have more copies than wolves do of the AMY2B gene, which produces an enzyme that breaks starch into easily digestible sugars.
Other genetic variants seem to contribute to dogs’ increased ability to convert a sugar called maltose to glucose, the sugar that cells prefer to burn for energy. Yet other genetic changes improve dogs’ ability to move glucose into their cells. Combined, the tweaks alter dogs’ metabolism so they can get more energy out of a carbohydrate-rich diet than wolves can, the researchers conclude. The scientists confirmed the effect of the genetic variants by identifying biochemical differences in starch metabolism in blood and tissue samples from dogs and wolves.
“This is a profound adaptation that dogs have,” says UCLA evolutionary biologist Robert Wayne. But he doesn’t think it was the first step in domestication. Archaeological evidence suggests that domesticated dogs have been around at least since 33,000 years ago, a time when humans were still hunter-gatherers. The changes that allow dogs to thrive on carbohydrates while wolves eat all meat probably started with the establishment of agriculture about 10,000 years ago, and represent late steps in the domestication process, Wayne says.
Both brain changes and dietary adaptations were probably necessary for some wolves to be domesticated Axelsson says. Wolves that were more tolerant to stress and that didn’t run and hide at the first sign of a human would have been able to stick around garbage heaps longer and eat their fill. And those that could extract more nutrients from the plant material in early farmers’ trash would have had an evolutionary advantage. The researchers are now determining when and in what part of the world the adaptations likely occurred, he says.
A popular dog treat could be adding more calories than pet owners realize, and possibly be contaminated by bacteria, according to a study published this month by researchers at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and the University of Guelph.
The treat in question: the "bully" or "pizzle stick." The American and Canadian researchers analyzed the caloric density and bacterial contamination of these popular items, made from the uncooked, dried penis of a bull or steer. They also administered a survey to pet owners to assess their knowledge of these treats.
The study, published in the January 2013 issue of the Canadian Veterinary Journal, examined 26 bully sticks purchased from retailers in the United States and Canada and made by different manufacturers.
A random subset of the 26 bully sticks was tested for caloric content. These bully sticks tested contained between nine to 22 calories per inch, meaning the average six inch stick packed 88 calories--nine percent of the daily calorie requirements for a 50-pound dog, and 30 percent of the daily calorie requirements for a 10-pound dog.
"While calorie information isn't currently required on pet treats or most pet foods, these findings reinforce that veterinarians and pet owners need to be aware of pet treats like these bully sticks as a source of calories in a dog's diet," said Lisa M. Freeman, DVM, PhD, DACVN, professor of nutrition at TCSVM who is board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition.
Freeman was first author on the paper. Co-authors were J. Scott Weese, professor in the Department of Pathobiology at the University of Guelph, and Nicol Janecko, a research associate at the Canadian university.
"With obesity in pets on the rise, it is important for pet owners to factor in not only their dog's food, but also treats and table food," Freeman added.
All 26 treats were tested for bacterial contaminants. One (4 percent) of the sticks was contaminated with Clostridium difficile; one (four percent) was contaminated with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics; and seven (27 percent) were contaminated with Escherichia coli, including one tetracycline-resistant sample.
The number of treats sampled was small and not all of these bacterial strains have been shown to infect humans. However, the researchers advise all pet owners to wash their hands after touching such treats, as they would with any raw meat or raw meat diets. The very young, elderly, pregnant, immunocompromised and other high-risk individuals should avoid all contact with raw animal-product based treats and raw meat diets, note the scientists.
To learn more about veterinarian and pet owner perceptions of dog foods and treats, the research team developed a 20-question Web-based survey. The survey was posted online for public participation for 60 days and all responses were anonymous. It was completed by 852 adults from 44 states and six countries. Most respondents were female dog owners.
"We were surprised at the clear misconceptions pet owners and veterinarians have with pet foods and many of the popular raw animal-product based pet treats currently on the market," said Freeman. "For example, 71 percent of people feeding bully sticks to their pets stated they avoid by-products in pet foods, yet bully sticks are, for all intents and purposes, an animal by-product."
Another surprising finding was the large number of people who did not know what bully sticks actually were. A higher proportion of veterinarians (62 percent) were able to correctly identify the source of bully sticks as bull penis compared to general respondents (44 percent). Twenty-three percent of the respondents fed their dogs bully sticks.
Further research with a larger sample size is needed to determine whether the calorie content and contamination rate found in this study is representative of all bully sticks, or other types of pet treats, according to the authors.
Like being in a hole in your backyard is where you want to fight off the power of the United States. Happy revolution.
According to an official in the Dale County, Ala. sheriff’s department, the man who took a child hostage after shooting a bus driver on Tuesday is a “survivalist” with “anti-America” views.
“His friends and his neighbors stated that he did not trust the government, that he was a Vietnam vet, and that he had PTSD,” Tim Byrd, chief investigator with the Dale County Sheriff’s Department, told The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch blog on Wednesday. “He was standoffish, didn’t socialize or have any contact with anybody. He was a survivalist type.”
Authorities first responded after receiving a call of a shooting in Midland City, Ala. involving a Dale County school bus at 3:36 p.m. local time on Tuesday. Authorities later said the bus driver had died and that a child was involved in what they described as an “ongoing incident.” They identified the bus driver as Charles Albert Poland Jr., who had worked for Dale County since 2009.
Authorities have not, however, officially confirmed the hostage situation or the name of the suspect, which has widely been reported as Jimmy Lee Dykes. Dykes reportedly boarded the bus on Tuesday and shot Poland several times, then took a 6-year-old boy from the bus to a bunker near Dykes’ home, where they have remained.
According to al.com, authorities have been negotiating with Dykes through a PVC pipe leading into the bunker. The 6-year-old boy is reportedly autistic, and requires medication, which has been delivered. Dykes reportedly has no ties to the boy. Sources also told al.com that Dykes is looking for attention to “air his grievances.”
Dykes’ motives remain unclear. Al.com reported that Dykes was charged with menacing in December, after pointing a gun at a neighbor. Dykes was scheduled to have a bench trial related to the charge on Wednesday.
Michael Creel, Dykes’ neighbor, told The Dothan Eagle he went outside Tuesday after his sister heard gun shots, and Creel then attempted to run Dykes down.
“He’s 67 years old, so I figured I could catch him,” Creel told the paper. “Apparently he didn’t go through the field like I thought. He’s got a four-foot-wide, about six-foot-long, eight-foot-deep homemade bomb shelter. It’s got about three to four feet of sand on top of it. If you didn’t know it was there, you wouldn’t (notice it).”
Mark Potok, a senior fellow at The Southern Poverty Law Center, told TPM in an email Wednesday that the center was not aware of Dykes prior to speaking with Byrd. A spokesperson with the sheriff’s department did not immediately respond to a request to confirm Byrd’s account.
I've spent the better part of January trying to get some music software to work with my other music software. This is incredibly frustrating. However, there is hope that after it finally works my blood pressure will go down.
Want to lower your blood pressure? Pick up a musical instrument.
That’s the implication of a pilot study from the Netherlands, which suggests playing music is beneficial to one’s cardiovascular system.
“Our study suggests that active music making has some training effects that resemble those of physical exercise training,” researchers from the Leiden University Medical Center’s Department of Cardiology reports in theNetherlands Heart Journal.
The researchers, including Cees Swenne, measured the cardiovascular health of 25 musicians and 28 non-musicians, all healthy young adults between the age of 18 and 30. The groups were well-matched in terms of height and weight, as well as caffeine and alcohol consumption, and the amount of physical exercise they engaged in.
The only significant difference was the musicians—including six pianists, five singers, four flutists and three guitarists—practiced their instrument for an average of 1.8 hours per day.
The researchers found blood pressure was significantly lower among the musicians, and their heart rate “tended to be lower” than those in the non-musical group. They attribute this to the musicians’ higher levels of “somatosensory nerve activity,” which “beneficially modulate the autonomic nervous system.”
And while the test subjects were youthful, the researchers write, “blood pressure tracks into adulthood, and it has been demonstrated that blood pressure during young adulthood is associated with death from heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and all causes decades later.
“It is likely that similar effects will be found in older persons, and possibly even diseased persons, because of the parallels with physical exercise,” they add.
Meanwhile, a recent study from Britain found senior citizens who are “actively engaged with making music exhibited higher levels of subjective well-being, as compared to those engaged in other group activities.” If these results from the Netherlands can be replicated with a larger sample, it will indicate that the benefits of playing music are physical as well as psychological.
I was glad to come across this article on the D.C. Circuit's recent ruling that Obama's recess appointments were unconstitutional. If you're interested in the subject at all feel free to read it. The coverage has been pretty dreadful. It's not decided law in that the Circuit's decision is in direct contradiction of an Eleventh Circuit decision and seems to be in contradiction of several hundred years of law. Recent Presidents of both parties since Reagan have used recess appointments, so the recent decent is even more suspect.
Also suspect is Representative Louis Gohmert from Texas who has called on President Obama's former students in law school to form a class action lawsuit against him. Considering that Gohmert spent years as a judge in Texas he is either dreadfully unfamiliar with the law himself or he is being hypocritical. I'm guessing the latter.
You wonder what ad exec thought that this awful commercial would make Chase Bank popular. Some ass in a suit pretending to play a blue guitar and singing about cash back with smiling people all around.
In reality someone would just clip this dude as he came dancing down the street. I'd like to see this mofo drift through a seedy bar.